The Position


Reporting to the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, the Executive Director of Career and Professional Development provides strategic, innovative, and collaborative leadership to support career exploration, career decision-making and development, work-based experiences, and successful planning and transition to post-graduation employment and graduate/professional school matriculation for Virginia Tech students, both undergraduate and graduate. The Executive Director develops collaborative relationships and partnerships with campus stakeholders and local, national, and international employing organizations to accomplish Career and Professional Development’s mission. Further, the Executive Director leads a team of more than 30 employees and stewards fiscal and physical resources (Smith Career Center building) in compliance with university business practices. The Executive Director is expected to participate in University committees, working groups, and initiatives and represent the University with external stakeholders and partners in support of employment of graduates and workforce initiatives aligned with Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission.

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Provide overarching vision, leadership, and guidance for all programs and services offered through Career and Professional Development (CPD).
  • Provide supervision, mentorship, and professional development for more than 30 faculty and staff. Foster a unit culture of learning and collaboration with a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect.
  • Ensure responsible allocation and management resources, including management and oversight of the Smith Career Center building; make executive-level decisions regarding budget and allocation/reallocation of FTEs; ensure unit compliance with all University business practices and policies.
  • Facilitate ongoing strategic planning and assessment to achieve continuous improvements, efficiencies, and high quality, as well as effective services, resources, and programs using current and emerging technologies.
  • Represent the Provost’s Office and the University on initiatives related to workforce readiness, employer needs, and employment opportunities of Virginia Tech graduates.


The successful candidate will have a master’s degree in higher education, student affairs administration, counselor education, or related field and demonstrated leadership within a comprehensive career services operation, including career counseling, experiential education, and employer recruiting services. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated experience building collaborative relationships with academic departments and colleges to support career exploration, professional development, and first-destination success for undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, demonstrated experience building relationships with employers on behalf of students; knowledge of strategic planning and data-informed decision-making, fiscal management, assessment, and supervision; and a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are all required qualifications. To succeed in this fast-paced work environment, candidates should be energetic, organized, capable of handling details effectively and possess strong interpersonal, communication, and team skills.

Preferred qualifications include a doctoral degree in higher education, student affairs administration, counselor education, or related field and significant experience leading a comprehensive career services operation, including career counseling, experiential education, and employer recruiting services. Demonstrating data-informed decision-making experience to promote continuous improvement and innovation is highly desirable.

In addition to the stated qualifications and characteristics, Virginia Tech stakeholders identified the following characteristics and strengths as important for the Executive Director (in no particular order):

  • Enthusiasm for the job, passion for the profession, the courage to incorporate new trends and best practices into the organizational culture, and the vision to continually assess and improve the organization while always looking to the future.
  • Able to maintain a strong culture of exemplary customer service to all constituents served by CPD.
  • A strategic and data-informed decision-maker who is exceptionally capable of working with data and encourages the use of assessment and quality data in all endeavors.
  • Strategic, future thinker and collaborator committed to advancing CPD and student success at all of Virginia Tech’s campuses.
  • High emotional intelligence, excellent interpersonal skills, and the ability to build strong and authentic relationships with both internal and external stakeholders.
  • Keen awareness of Virginia Tech’s student population demographics and an unwavering commitment to serve all students—undergraduates and graduates—at all campuses.
  • A proven record of success in infusing a career-related focus into the curriculum and programs offered throughout the institution.
  • Ability to build bridges to faculty and employers, helping these constituent groups understand the role of CPD and the benefits of a strong partnership.
  • A strategic risk-taker who promotes creativity in every area of the position and an innovator with a futuristic orientation and a willingness to try new opportunities and initiatives.
  • Credible, engaging, supportive, and approachable supervisor with knowledge of the responsibilities of each staff member’s position and respect for their work and contributions, and is adept at advocating for staff’s and students’ programs and needs.
  • A leader open to listening and gathering feedback and opinions, with the confidence to make an unpopular decision if needed, and appropriately shares when a program or idea cannot move forward.
  • Solid personnel management skills with a proven track record of developing and maximizing staff potential while encouraging their professional growth.
  • A compassionate, accessible, transparent, ethical leader with excellent communication skills to clearly articulate vision, direction, and purpose and earn the respect and confidence of the students, faculty, and staff.
  • An authentic and transparent communicator with excellent public relations skills, the ability to tell the “story” of CPD, and the capability to reach all levels of the University and external stakeholders, including effectively speaking to students, parents, faculty/academics, employers, and other members of the campus community.
  • Possesses a solid innovative and entrepreneurial mindset with a competitive spirit to make Virginia Tech the best.
  • A highly visible, collaborative leader, creating relationships with all of CPD’s academic colleagues as well as those within Student Affairs to deliver outstanding programs and services to meet the needs of all students regardless of School or major.
  • An educator with a student-centered focus that prioritizes developing and delivering a set of career and professional development-related initiatives to build the needed skills that lead to success in a rapidly evolving employment landscape.
  • A commitment to proactive outreach to the student body at all levels—going to the students, not waiting for the students to find CPD.
  • An understanding and appreciation of marketing, outreach, social media, and new technologies that may improve processes and efficiencies.
  • Highly energetic individual with a strong sense of self and the ability to appropriately infuse humor and enthusiasm into the workplace and campus community.
  • Excellent negotiation skills with demonstrated diplomacy and political savvy.
  • Strong community builder and collaborator, capable of building bridges to departments, faculty, staff, students, and the campus community.
  • An understanding and deep commitment to social justice and demonstrated cultural competence with a strong belief in the value of diversity and inclusion in enriching learning, understanding the different experiences and career trajectories across colleges and majors, and enhancing the quality of life on campus.
  • A savvy financial manager with the ability to creatively use resources.
  • Involvement and leadership roles in statewide, regional, or national career-related professional organizations or associations, with the ability to bring positive focus and attention to the CPD’s work.


CPD is very fortunate to have had a talented individual serve as a long-standing director for the department. Donna Ratcliffe has been at Virginia Tech for 38 years, with the last 12 years in the capacity of Director. She has decided to retire at the end of June 2023. The institution is launching a national search to find the leader for this dynamic, student-focused department.


The new Executive Director of Career and Professional Development must possess a broad and deep understanding of national best practices and innovations concerning the career development field, be able to cull the best parts of these programs, and then work to move Virginia Tech’s CPD program to even greater heights. The Executive Director should be an experienced leader who has had success building and advancing a career and professional development services program/office at another institution, exceptionally capable of using data to inform all decisions, and equipped to contribute at both a strategic and tactical level to a vibrant and fast-paced institution. Creating an integrated approach to help students build leadership skills, develop and demonstrate career readiness competencies, gain relevant experience, and construct professional networks that will complement their academic degree programs and advance their journey toward realizing current and future career aspirations must be central to the Executive Director’s focus. Further, this position must be willing to work with all faculty and academic and student affairs partners to create dynamic and nuanced career strategies for all students; one approach for all is not acceptable.

The following were identified as possible opportunities, priorities, and challenges that will face the new Executive Director of Career and Professional Development:

  • This is an exciting time to come to Virginia Tech as the campuses are actively engaged in career-related conversations with a future focus. The new Executive Director can create, innovate, and build within CPD.
  • The new Executive Director follows a strong, well-respected, competent leader who has served the institution for many years. The person truly has big shoes to fill.
  • The CPD staff is exceptional, as is the leadership team; the Executive Director should fit well within this staff while inspiring and empowering individuals through both personal and professional development.
  • The office has a positive reputation throughout campus, but academic colleagues are eager for more engagement and assistance with a holistic approach to academic and career advising.
  • With multiple campuses, the CPD has staff that works on all campuses. It will be a challenge to ensure that all staff feels supported and valued as their campuses and students will have different needs.
  • Virginia Tech is a very relational institution; the next Executive Director must forge meaningful relationships, establish trust with various stakeholders, and be an authentic communicator and collaborator.
  • The decentralized nature of the campuses allows for a wide variety of support offered to students from their academic departments; some departments have outstanding support, while others have nothing. The Executive Director must be aware of this and work to develop a plan to help elevate access and equity to students and departments to support career resources.
  • The CPD team is open to innovation and positive change to improve services to all Virginia Tech students and academic colleagues.
  • A better understanding of Handshake, its capabilities, and how this tool specifically benefits Virginia Tech’s students with regional and state opportunities is needed.
  • The CPD should increase efforts to gather reliable data after graduation through the First Destination Survey.
  • The approach to career and professional development activities must be tailored more to students’ specific needs and goals and integrated into both curricular and co-curricular spaces.
  • CPD has infused career topics in first-year experience classes and other new student events; however, career-to-curriculum options must be pursued to remain relevant with students as they progress through coursework.
  • Continue close relationships with the academic units while enhancing current partnerships and initiatives and developing new ones to serve the students best.
  • The CPD is considered an auxiliary and, as such, has a source of funding through student fees. This is a wonderful opportunity that encourages creativity while also allowing for increased flexibility.


At an appropriate interval after joining Virginia Tech, the following will define the initial success of the Executive Director.

  • CPD is woven into the educational fabric of each student’s educational experience.
  • Consistent and accurate information is promptly shared with all academic and campus partners.
  • The Executive Director has maintained current positive relationships with campus partners while also forging new partnerships and methods for collaboration.
  • The Executive Director has observed and learned the culture of CPD and has recommended necessary changes to enhance the CPD’s services.
  • The CPD staff is happy and working together cohesively as a team, morale is high, staff vacancies are filled as quickly as possible, and the Executive Director is consistently available and willing to listen to staff.
  • The Executive Director is seen as a visible, credible leader on campus and in the Virginia Tech community who is knowledgeable and respected.
  • Based on factual data from proven assessment methods, the number of students utilizing CPD’s resources and finding employment and the number of internships available is rising.
  • Students indicate that the CPD has assisted them in their career journey, and there is a perception that the University cares about their future success.
  • The Executive Director has instilled a sense of innovation and forward-thinking into all collaborative efforts and new initiatives.
  • The CPD is significantly more integrated into the various Colleges and Schools, with strong collaborations across staff and programs.
  • CPD is considered on the cutting edge of the Career and Professional Development landscape, with other institutions seeking to emulate their programs and successes.
  • The Executive Director has developed a comprehensive vision for CPD with attainable goals and appropriate policies and procedures aligned with that vision and the institution’s mission.
  • Employer feedback is positive, and employers indicate a strong working relationship with CPD.

Institution & Location


Career and Professional Development’s mission is to assist all students at Virginia Tech, in all majors, first year through graduate level, through all their college years in their journey of career and professional development. They advise students, provide resources for students, and host events, including workshops and career fairs.

At Virginia Tech, Career and Professional Development advisors help Hokies explore potential careers and majors, land internships, and tailor résumés for future employment.

No matter the major or academic level, the Career and Professional Development team aims to help students explore career options, seek real-world experiences, secure post-graduation employment, and plan for graduate or professional school. Ninety-three percent of graduates have had a career-related experience before graduating from Virginia Tech, such as paid internships, part-time and full-time jobs, or research experience.

Mission, vision, and values

Strategic planning

Career and Professional Development staff


Virginia Tech is a public land-grant research university committed to pushing the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing scholars to be leaders and problem-solvers. Inspired by its land-grant identity and guided by the motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech is an inclusive community of knowledge, discovery, and creativity dedicated to improving the quality of life and the human condition within the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the world. Virginia Tech seeks candidates who adopt and practice the Principles of Community, which are fundamental to the University’s ongoing efforts to increase access and inclusion and to create a community that nurtures learning and growth. Virginia Tech actively seeks a broad spectrum of candidates to join its community in preparing leaders for the world. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and a leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers about 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 37,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students across the commonwealth and manages a research portfolio of more than $556 million. Virginia Tech has a 2,600-acre main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia; a significant presence across the commonwealth, including the Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia, the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke, and sites in Newport News and Richmond; educational and research facilities across the state; a study-abroad site in Switzerland; and a 1,800-acre agriculture research farm near the main campus.

Virginia Tech mission and facts

Strategic planning


Timothy Sands – President

Timothy D. Sands is the 16th President of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a professor in the College of Engineering. Since joining Virginia Tech in 2014, President Sands has set the University on a course to become a leading modern, global, land-grant Institution aligned with the needs and opportunities created by a rapidly changing world in the evolving landscape of higher education.

President Sands initiated InclusiveVT in 2015, leading an effort to increase the enrollment of underrepresented minority (URM) students by 88 percent while closing the 4-year graduation rate gap from 10 percentage points to 1 percentage point.

President’s organizational chart


Rachel Holloway – Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Rachel Holloway leads strategies, programs, and resources that support the undergraduate educational experience at Virginia Tech. She works closely with college Deans, Associate Deans, and other Vice Provosts to coordinate strategic initiatives to advance Virginia Tech’s undergraduate education profile, including current discussion on VT-shaped learning and curricular development surrounding Destination Areas.

Holloway directly oversees areas that enhance the overall undergraduate experience, such as academic advising, undergraduate education programs and efforts, undergraduate academic integrity, student success programs, and student athletes.

Holloway served on the faculty at Virginia Tech since 1989. She has progressed through academic administrative and leadership roles, having served as undergraduate program coordinator, assistant department head, and head of the Department of Communication. Prior to her current position, Holloway served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Undergraduate Academic Affairs Staff


Total Enrollment: +37,000

Undergraduate: 80%

Graduate: 20%

Male: 57%

Female: 43%

Student to Faculty: 13 to 1


To read the complete diversity statements of Virginia Tech, please visit;


Virginia Tech offers employees a robust benefits program, from comprehensive insurance plans to tuition assistance. This full range of benefits, services, and discounts is an integral part of the University’s total compensation package and is just one of the many things that make Virginia Tech a great place to work.

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin March 28, 2023, and continue until the position is filled.  To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Heather J. Larabee at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email

 The public salary range is $140K – $160K with relocation assistance to be negotiated.

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 Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.

 For inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies, contact the executive director for Equity and Access at 540-231-8771 or Virginia Tech, North End Center, Suite 2300 (0318), 300 Turner St. NW, Blacksburg, VA 24061.


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